Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management

2019 BootCamp Speakers and Panelists

A team of highly experienced leaders present BootCamp sessions in the focus areas of mission, board governance, leadership style and capabilities, strategic management, financial management and planning, resource development, and legal and ethical issues. Additional professionals contribute to a Resource Development Panel and Executive Director Panel.

This page will be updated periodically as speakers are confirmed.

Robert B. Acton, JD, Principal and Founder, Cause Strategy Partners

Cause Strategy Partners is a consulting social enterprise that provides strategic counsel and high-impact programming to foundations, companies and social good organizations with a specialized focus on building both board and executive leadership. A Certified B Corporation, the firm partners with local, regional and national foundations; Fortune 500 corporate social responsibility and HR/talent teams; and nonprofit boards of directors, chief executives and staff leaders. Cause Strategy Partners’ client list includes Google, Goldman Sachs, LinkedIn, JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, Barclays, PwC, Capital One, KPMG, United Airlines, MasterCard, Macquarie Group, Cushman & Wakefield, Motorola Solutions, Allstate, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The Chicago Community Trust, Heckscher Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, UJA Federation of New York, and scores of nonprofit organizations serving communities around the country. Cause Strategy Partners’ signature program, BoardLead, has placed, trained and supported more than 200 professionals for high-impact board service in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

Rob has more than two decades of experience founding, leading and scaling social good organizations as both a nonprofit chief executive and board leader. In 2011, Rob was appointed executive director of Taproot Foundation in New York City and served as interim leader of the foundation’s work in Chicago as well. During his four-year tenure, revenue more than doubled and the number of nonprofit organizations served grew 220%. Prior to Taproot, Rob led Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in Chicago. During his seven-year tenure as executive director, CGLA grew substantially in size, reputation and community impact, expanding ten-fold the number of indigent clients served, adding policy work as a key aspect of its programs, tripling the agency’s annual revenue, scaling pro bono legal service, and doubling the organization’s staff. Under Rob’s leadership, CGLA received Chicago’s prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence.

Rob is vice chair of the board of directors of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC), an organization representing and serving 1,500-member nonprofit organizations in the New York City region. He has co-chaired NPCC’s strategic planning committee and development committee, and has also served on the presidential search committee and governance committee. Rob serves on the advisory board of CGLA. Previously, Rob was a founding board member of Illinois Legal Aid Online, served on the advisory board of the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, and served on the board of trustees of his alma mater, Spring Arbor University. Rob was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and confirmed by the Illinois Senate to serve on a state commission investigating police abuse.

Rob is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He attended Michigan public schools, Spring Arbor University and Brooklyn Law School. Rob’s causes: educational equity, second chances for ex-offenders, the performance arts, and nonprofit capacity building. Rob tweets @RobertActon.

Salvatore Alaimo, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration, Grand Valley State University

Salvatore has published book chapters in “The Jossey-Bass Reader on Nonprofit and Public Leadership;” “Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice;” “Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations: A Reference Handbook;” “Handbook of Research on Nonprofit Economics” and “Management and International Encyclopedia of Civil Society.” He also published journal articles in “New Directions for Evaluation” and the “Journal of the Grant Professionals Association.” Salvatore recently produced his first film, a documentary entitled What is Philanthropy?, available through Indiana University Press, that enhances our understanding of the concept of giving and its role in our lives and American society.

Salvatore has nine years’ experience working at nonprofit organizations including the United Way and the Girl Scouts, and has also consulted for nonprofits including the National Benevolent Association, the University of Georgia, Georgia Ballet, International Rescue Committee, United Way, and Latin American Association among others. He earned his Ph.D. in philanthropic studies at Indiana University, and his master’s in urban studies from Georgia State University. He is also certified in volunteer administration (CVA).

Michelle Aronson, MBA, People Experience Officer, Human Resources, Swedish Covenant Hospital and Adjunct Professor, North Park University School of Business and Nonprofit Management

Michelle Aronson is a leader with 20 years of expertise in driving innovative human resources solutions in talent branding, culture, executive coaching, mediation and customer experience. Her focus is on defining and executing effective people strategies, particularly in the areas of employee engagement, high-performance leadership, and organizational culture change. Her combination of practical business experience and evidence-based knowledge allows her to help leaders meet the most pressing business challenges without losing their people-orientation.

Michelle earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from George Washington University and a Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from the University of Illinois. In addition to a graduate certificate in Organizational Development from North Park University, Michelle holds certifications as a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR), a Society of Human Resources Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), a Certified Mediator trained by the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution, an International Coach Federation Certified Professional Coach (CPP), and Second City Improv class alumni.

David Bea, JD, Principal, Bea & VandenBerk Attorneys at Law

David Bea is an attorney with the firm of Bea & VandenBerk in Chicago. The attorneys at Bea & VandenBerk concentrate on serving nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. They have successfully taken a wide variety of organizations through the start-up process, advised both large and small organizations on issues of governance, leadership, management, corporate re-structuring, taxation, international operations, operation of foreign subsidiaries, protection of intellectual property, real estate, and employment administration. Their clients are nationwide. David’s clients include start-ups, nonprofits, religious organizations, private foundations, entrepreneurs, publishers, authors, artists, and other creatives. David has presented seminars for the Chicago Bar Association, the IRS TE/GE Advisory Council, and numerous other organizations about matters of nonprofit law, social enterprise law, or intellectual property. He is a member of the Exempt Organizations Division of the Federal Tax Committee of the Chicago Bar Association and formerly served as the committee chair. He has served on boards or volunteered for several nonprofits.

Monika Black, PhD, CPC, Co-founder and Chief Strategist, TandemSpring

Since retiring from high jump, where she was a Medal of Honor recipient, four-time All-American, and three-time captain of the University of Michigan women’s track team, Monika Black has earned master’s degrees in clinical psychology and health administration at Ohio State University, and a doctorate in community psychology at DePaul University.

Monika worked at one of the top-rated hospital systems in the country before launching multiple businesses, including TandemSpring, a leadership consultancy that assists leaders, teams, and organizations in identifying and leading from their strengths in all that they do; DyMynd, a boutique financial empowerment firm designed to help women heal their relationship with money; DyMynd Angels, a female-led and focused angel investing imitative, and LCL – Beautiful Faces, a nonprofit that created and promoted strengths-based programs to empower diverse girls and women from the inside out.

Known as the “maximizer,” Monika is sought after for her ability to help individuals and organizations reach their absolute fullest potential. She has coached hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders, helping them to enhance their own performance in life and work, and has worked in multiple organizations helping them develop, revitalize, and transform programs into industry-leading practices with authenticity and accountability. Monika co-authored “Unlock The Corporate Mindset” to help leaders of all types operate in their strengths and elevate their authentic leadership presence.

Andreason Lasalle Brown, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago

Andreason Lasalle Brown is chief financial officer and treasurer at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago which supports high-quality investigation of education through its research programs.  He is responsible for all accounting operations of this $500+ million private Foundation and ensures strategic budgeting supports and drives programmatic work.  Andreason most recently served in the roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Forefront (formerly Donors Forum), the Illinois membership association for grant makers and nonprofits.

He is dedicated to public service and deeply committed to improving lives through his professional work and volunteer activities.  Andreason serves on several local and national boards in support of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.  He is Board Chair of the African American Legacy Fund at the Chicago Community Trust and an appointed Board Member of the Illinois State Treasurer’s Charitable Trust Stabilization Fund.  Andreason frequently speaks and advises on topics including sustainability, finance, budgeting, and strategic development.

Born and raised in West Michigan and a Chicago resident since 1995, Andreason holds a B.S. in Economics from Central Michigan University and M.S. in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University.

Evette Cardona, Vice President of Programs, Polk Bros. Foundation

Evette is a native Chicagoan, out and proud lesbian, and a graduate of the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, where she received the 2010 U of C’s Leadership in Diversity Alumni award, the 2008 Elizabeth Butler award for outstanding professional success and achievement in social work, and where she teaches a course on philanthropy and social change. In 2012 she was appointed vice president of programs for the Polk Bros. Foundation where she began as a program intern in 1997. She is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of Forefront.

Prior to joining Polk Bros. Foundation, Evette worked with adolescent mothers and their children, was a teaching-artist, and did freelance photography/audio-visual work.  She received her Bachelors of Arts in art and design from University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has been honored with numerous awards for her community work including most recently Crain’s Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives, and awards from the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, National Museum of Mexican Arts, the Center on Halsted, the ACLU/Chicago office, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, the Illinois Women’s Bar Association, Latinos Progresando, and the Association of Latinos Motivated for Action. She was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2002.

Sidney C. Freitag-Fey, MA, CFRE, Director of Development and Marketing, Delta Institute

Sidney (Sid) has more than 15 years of resource development experience with expertise in individual giving (annual fund, major gifts, and planned giving); board relations and recruitment; grant writing and prospecting; corporate sponsorship; event planning fundraising strategy; and marketing. Currently he is the director of development and marketing for Delta Institute, a $4M 501c3 that works with communities throughout the Midwest to solve environmental and economic needs. Sid previously served as development director for a small regenerative farming and food safety nonprofit, a gifts officer for Heartland Alliance for Human Rights & Human Needs, and in steadily increasing development roles for multiple Chicago-based social service agencies since 2006. He is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Mongolia; was adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago; and has been a presenter for the Axelson Center since 2014. He is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association.

Malik Gillani, MNA, Executive Director, Silk Road Rising

Malik Gillani is the founding executive director of Silk Road Rising (SRR), a position to which he brings extensive experience in producing, management, and business development. Malik is a recognized leader in the creation of innovative arts programming that expands artistic access. Most notably, he conceived of and developed SRR’s model for creating online video plays which are now being accessed across the globe. Malik has been a volunteer grant reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and the City of Chicago’s CityArts Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from North Park University.

Francia E. (Francee) Harrington, Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Civic Engagment, Fifth Third Bank

In her executive leadership role at Fifth Third, Francee guides the bank’s investments strategies with an eye towards deepening and sharpening the philanthropic focus.  At a time when many companies are stepping back, her role is to provide the strategy and momentum for Fifth Third to step up in community commitments and civic leadership.

Francee began her banking career with The First National Bank of Chicago, and learned “that change brings opportunity” through the First Chicago NBD, Bank One and ultimately JPMorgan Chase mergers.  As her career advanced, she held roles with increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as director of civic affairs at JPMorgan Chase in Chicago.

Francee then served as president and chief development officer of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation. She later served as president and chief strategy officer at Make It Better Media.

She serves on many nonprofit boards, including: Chicago Public Library Foundation, Baumhart Center at Loyola University’s Leadership Council, Chicago Child Care Society, and Chicago High School for the Arts and the Art Institute’s Learning & Public Engagement committee.  She chairs the board of Ingenuity, which is dedicated to access to a quality arts education for all CPS students.  She is also a past president of the Junior League of Chicago.

Richard L. Jones, PhD, Executive Coach/Organizational Consultant

Richard L. Jones, Ph.D., has served in major leadership roles in the nonprofit sector throughout the country. He has served as the administrator of the Division of Senior and Adult Services and the administrator of Employment and Family Services and the Cuyahoga Support Enforcement Agency for Cuyahoga County. In 2013, he served as the senior vice president of community investment of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. In this role, he was responsible for leadership, planning and measurement and execution of United Way’s strategic investments in the areas of income, education and health. Prior to this position, he served as president and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago delivering more than $290 million in programs and services to more than 600,000 people. Prior to joining Metropolitan Family Services, he served as executive director of Boston Children’s Services in Boston, Massachusetts and president and CEO of the Center for Families and Children in Cleveland.

Richard’s leadership is recognized nationally and internationally. He was presented the Leadership in Nonprofit Award by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University in 1997; a fellowship to the Harvard Business School in 2005; and the Lifetime Achievement Award for the State of Illinois by the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in 2011. In the Spring of 2010, Dr. Jones was one of a select group of delegates to participate in the Congress on Social Work and in 2010 and 2011 he served as a co-leader of a delegation of social workers studying the social service system in Russia and Brazil.

Richard completed his MSSA and Ph.D. at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western University. He has served as the chairman of the board of directors for the Alliance for Children and Families, the Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort, and Assurance Services which is the for-profit arm of the NASW. Previous leadership responsibilities have included serving on the board of directors of Leadership Cleveland and the Cleveland United Way; serving as the co-chair of the International Year of the Family and co-chair of the Commission on Chemical Dependency and Child Welfare for the Child Welfare League of America. Recently, Richard was honored as president emeritus of Metropolitan Family Services and had a building named in his honor.

A graduate of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 1993, Richard is a member of the Visiting Committee of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University and he is a presenter on risk management for Assurance Services, Inc., which oversees insurance products for the NASW. He is also a board member of the NASW Insurance Company.

Melissa Lagowski, President and Founder, Big Buzz Idea Group

Melissa Lagowski created Big Buzz Idea Group in November 2004 so that Chicagoland nonprofits would have an honest outsourcing partner to bring their largest projects to life. After raising nearly $6 million dollars for her clients and taking two entities out of the red and into the black, Melissa is dedicated to providing full operational support that will allow charitable organizations to run more effectivelyWith 26 years of corporate and nonprofit experience, she has launched and executed large fundraisers, conceived several innovative and lucrative new programs, coordinated a variety of dinners/awards functions and organized numerous conferences/workshops. Her largest project to date is Ribfest Chicago, where she is responsible for every facet of the event including festival promotion, sponsorship development, entertainment, booking, and vendor management. Having begun with 5,000 attendees, the event now draws 70,000 people annually and was featured on Food Network’s “Eating America” with Anthony Anderson (2014).

Melissa is a member, serving as the Executive Director, of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Chicago Area Chapter. Awards and accomplishments include the 2016 Woman of Influence by The Chicago Business Journal (January 2016); the NAWBO Chicago Presidential Award of Excellence (2014); Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Graduate (2013); Enterprising Women of the Year (March 2014) by Enterprising Women Magazine; and Influential Women in Business Award by the Daily Herald Business Ledger (2012);Melissa graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Her program emphasis was public relations and event planning.

Jeri Linas, CEO, Ignite

Jeri is an exceptional relationship and coalition builder with broad-based experience in organizational development, growth and positioning. Her areas of expertise include planning, management, administration, fundraising/development, marketing and stakeholder engagement.

Jeri has excellent communication and public speaking abilities and a tremendous capacity, strength and ability to engage diverse communities as change agents for social justice issues. She joined Ignite (formerly Teen Living Programs) as executive director in January 2010. Prior to joining Ignite, Jeri served as NCA Cares program director from May 2008 through Oct.2009. Her primary responsibilities were to develop member activities related to NCA’s various community service programs (CUT IT OUT!, Look Good …Feel Better, & Disaster Relief) as well as drive fundraising activities to direct revenue in support of these programs.
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Prior to joining NCA, Jeri worked for 10 years as the assistant director of the Chicago Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence (MODV) and as founding member, assistant director and then executive director of Rainbow House/Arco Iris, a comprehensive social service and shelter agency serving battered women and their families in Chicago.

Jeri is the National Domestic Violence training partner and advisory board member for the Salons Against Domestic Abuse Fund’s CUT IT OUT! education and awareness campaign for salon professionals. Founded by the National Cosmetology Association in partnership with Southern Living at HOME, CUT IT OUT! is an award-winning program designed to leverage the professional beauty industry’s deep relationship with the clients they serve to enhance the public’s awareness of the issues surrounding domestic abuse and to safely provide information on community resources to assist those in need.

Jeri, an immigrant from Belfast, N. Ireland, is an educator by training and has taught in England, Ireland and the USA. She lives with her family in the Beverly community in Chicago.

Jennifer R. Madden, PhD, MNO, Chair & Associate Professor of Management and Marketing and Director, Master of Business Design & Innovation (MB-DI) Program at Carthage College; President, Leverage Point Development

Jennifer is a researcher, teacher, facilitator and design thinker. In her work with community-based nonprofit organizations, she assists with strategic planning, resource development, and capacity building. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. from the Weatherhead School of Management, a master’s in nonprofit management, and a bachelor’s in both economics and American studies, all from Case Western Reserve University. Jennifer is a Nonprofit Management Research Fellow, a Fowler Sustainability Fellow and a Management Design Fellow. Her current research is on designing effective public-private partnerships then leveraging those collaborations to build capacity for effective performance and social innovation.

Her new book, Inter-Organizational Collaboration by Design in the Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management Series, examines how collaborations can overcome barriers to innovate and rejuvenate communities outlining the factors and antecedents that influence successful collaboration. The book proposes a theoretical perspective for collaborators to adopt the language of designers, evidence-based tools, and strategies to enable success. The book outlines her journey from research to action resulting in a “Collaboration Blueprint” that assisted community-based nonprofit organizations to secure over $13.5 million in grant funding.

Kelli McMiller, Strategic Engagement Leader and VP of Consulting, The Kaleidoscope Group

Kelli serves as the strategic engagement leader and vice president of consulting at The Kaleidoscope Group, a full service diversity and inclusion (D&I) consulting firm based in Chicago. In her role, Kelli gives corporations advice on creating a transformative, long-term sustainable D&I journey.

Formerly, Kelli served as Sara Lee’s director of inclusion & diversity for North America. At Sara Lee, she created the foundation for D&I success and continued to partner with business leaders to deliver against goals set for the organization.  Highlights of her achievements at Sara Lee include:

  • Launching the inaugural, annual inclusion & diversity event to provide an overview of the company’s success and opportunities as well as recognize employees who  made an impact in creating an inclusive culture.
  • Creating an ambassador program to support the company’s external diversity recruitment strategy.
  • Providing oversight for all resource groups and launching the company’s first LGBT (Pride Network) with the CEO serving as the executive sponsor. Kelli influenced the organization to create its first multicultural marketing director position.

Headquartered in Indianapolis at Emmis Communications (a multi-media organization), Kelli was the director of diversity and staffing. There she built and managed the staffing processes, ensured compliance and led recruitment and diversity initiatives for the organization. Some of the many successes during her tenure there were development and execution of an organization-wide strategic long-term diversity plan and successful launches of numerous diversity programs, diversity roundtables and best practice external-recruitment initiatives.

Kelli’s work has been highlighted in industry publications, city magazines and recognized in the Indianapolis Mayor’s Diversity Awards. She was named one of 30 Young Leaders of the Future, featured in EBONY Magazine and serves on the advisory board of DePaul University’s Center to Advance Education for Adults.

With a proven record in defining vision, developing strategy and executing action plans that produce sustainable results, Kelli is an invaluable resource to executives.  She has a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Ball State University.

Charles A. Montorio-Archer, PhD, Esq., MPA; President & Chief Executive Officer, One Hope United

Charles is a nonprofit entrepreneur, child and family advocate, attorney and author. He joined One Hope United as president and CEO in 2019.

Prior to One Hope United, Charles co-founded The THRIVE Network in 1996 and served as its CEO for another 11 years before successfully merging the organization with The New York Foundling. THRIVE assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout New York City.

Charles has written three books, most recently Everybody Paddles: A Leader’s Blueprint for Creating A Unified Team, which provides a management model for reaching strategic alignment and accelerating organizational change through respect, collaboration and leadership. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Lincoln University, a master’s degree in public administration from CUNY Baruch College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and a PhD in public policy from Walden University. From 2001 to 2004, he served as assistant district attorney in Kings County, Brooklyn, NY. Then from 2004 to 2007, he served as the associate executive director for the InterAgency Council of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disability Agencies, where he advocated at the city, state, and federal levels for program development, business sustainability, and policy and regulatory reform.

Mary Morten, President, Morten Group LLC

Mary Morten is the president of Morten Group (MG), a national consulting firm established in November 2001 to focus on clients in the nonprofit, for-profit, and foundation fields. The Morten Group team is comprised of a multi-racial, cross generational group of professionals—an intentional component of our business model. The firm focuses on diversity, racial equity and inclusion, executive placements, research, and organizational development.

Mary is a past director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the Chicago Department of Public Health. In this position, Mary was responsible for the citywide implementation of the violence prevention plan: Prevent Violence! Chicago. Prior to this position, Mary was an appointee for Mayor Richard M. Daley and served as a director in the Commission on Human Relations.

Previous positions include associate director, interim executive director, and board president of Chicago Foundation for Women, the region’s largest women’s fund; as well as interim executive director of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM); and interim vice president of development at Howard Brown Health Center.

Recognitions include: a 2017 Women in Film FOCUS Award, a 2014 YWomen Leadership Award from the YWCA of Evanston-Northshore; in 2013, a Leppen Leadership Award from About Face Theatre; in 2012, a Black Excellence Award for Documentary Film from the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. Mary is also a past appointee to the Illinois Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Mary holds a bachelor’s in communications with an emphasis in radio and television from Loyola University Chicago and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits.

Cori Moschberger, LCSW, MSW, Counselor and Organizational Development Consultant

Cori is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She has been in the field of social services since 1998. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003.

Cori is a clinical therapist and an organizational development consultant and trainer residing in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. She is an author, a dog lover, enjoys new experiences and adventure and values compassion and lifelong learning.

As a consultant and trainer Cori specializes in the nonprofit sector. Her expertise includes administration, management, team building and training, leadership, and mentoring. Having successfully led her own staff as an executive director of an organization in Chicago, Cori brings to her clients the real-world “know-how” needed to effectively mentor and manage employees and teams.

As a clinical therapist, Cori uses a strengths-based approach with all her clients. She creates a safe and comforting environment that allows clients to discover their strengths to live happier and more enriched lives.

Christy Uchida, MBA, Senior Program Officer, The Brinson Foundation

Christy is a highly skilled philanthropic leader and currently serves as the senior program officer for The Brinson Foundation, a private family foundation that funds education and scientific research. In the community, Christy is a visible representative of the Foundation, and she effectively interfaces with nonprofit grantees and a close-knit board of directors. She will succeed Jim Parsons as president of the Foundation at the beginning of 2020.

In her previous role, Christy spent almost five years with The Boeing Company’s corporate social responsibility group. In that role, she executed strategies aligned to the company’s education, arts and culture, health and human services, civic and environmental interests.

Prior to working in the philanthropic sector, Christy served as managing director at Redmoon Theater, business manager at Writers’ Theatre and director of finance and administration at Performing Arts Chicago.

With unwavering commitment, Christy generously donates her time serving on the board of the School for Field Studies, of which she is an alumna, and she recently completed a decade of board service at Links Hall, an independent performing arts incubator. She is active in various member groups at Forefront, the National Center for Family Philanthropy and Chicago Women in Philanthropy.

Christy holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor of science degree in environmental studies and biology from Tufts University.

Michele Zurakowski, PhD, Executive Director, Beyond Hunger

Michele was the first employee of Beyond Hunger (formerly Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry) in 2008 when it was a $70,000 program of another agency. She shepherded its transformation to a stand-alone agency in 2010 and oversaw its growth to multi-faceted anti-hunger service provider with a 2019 budget of $2.7 million.  During that time, the organization’s reach grew from serving 16,000 to 40,000 individuals each year across the Westside of Chicago and surrounding suburbs.  As executive director Michele led the expansion of hunger-relief efforts beyond the basement where the food pantry is located and into the community where hunger lives. Summer meals for children, home delivery for seniors and people with disabilities, cooking classes, and nutrition education are some of the programs developed under her leadership. She has overseen an aggressive food rescue program, recruiting local merchants to donate over 200,000 pounds of perishable groceries and 20,000 meals from cafeterias each year. Most recently, she led a major rebranding process culminating in a name change that better reflects the scope of Beyond Hunger’s work. Prior to her anti-hunger work, Michele was an assistant professor and department chair in communication studies.